The new airborne CRyogenic Infrared Spectrometers and Telescope for the Atmosphere experiment (CRISTA-New Frontiers) succeeds the CRISTA satellite instrument operated twice during NASA space shuttle flights in November 1994 (STS 66) and August 1997 (STS 85). The first mission of the instrument will take place aboard the high altitude research aircraft M55-Geophysica in a campaign in the tropics in 2005/06. CRISTA-NF is a limb-scanning instrument measuring thermal emissions of various atmospheric trace gases (e.g. water vapor, ozone, chlorofluorocarbons), clouds and aerosols in the mid-infrared spectral region. The incoming radiation entering the optics through a Herschel telescope is analyzed by two Ebert-Fastie grating spectrometers with moderate spectral resolution and finally registered by cryogenic semiconductor-detectors. The optical system is integrated into a compact cryostat which reaches temperatures down to 10K by cooling with supercritical helium. This allows fast measurements and provides good signal-to-noise ratio. A narrow vertical field of view (200m) results in high vertical resolution which is neccessary for the analysis of small scale dynamic processes especially in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. This paper gives a scientific motivation, some remarks on the measurement technique and an overview of instrument design and technology.© (2004) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.